[A]nti-fascism is an illiberal politics of social revolutionism applied to fighting the Far Right, not only literal fascists. The exceptional spectacle of anti-fascist organizers confronting Nazis is not enough to stem the tide of Trumpism. Moreover, even the success of such physical militancy relies in part on its public reception. Therefore, we must pair our focus on organized anti-fascism with an understanding of a deeper everyday anti-fascism that dictates the terrain upon which such struggles occur.
When confrontation shifts to the arena of violence, it's the toughest and most brutal who win – and we know who that is. It's a major gift to the Right, including the militant Right, who are exuberant.
The ruling elites are, at the same time, desperately seeking scapegoats. The idea that antifa, which on the spectrum of terrorist groups would rank alongside the Boy Scouts, is behind these clashes is as ridiculous as the idea that Russia is responsible for the election of Trump. This desperate search for explanations that absolve the ruling elites saw Susan Rice, who was Obama’s national-security adviser, blame the violence on “foreign actors,” adding that “this is right out of the Russian playbook.” This trope is always trotted by despotic rulers to discredit dissidents who are branded as the enemy of the people.
You had a number of the courageous students, of all colors, at the University of Virginia who were protesting against the neofascists themselves. The neofascists had their own ammunition. And this is very important to keep in mind, because the police, for the most part, pulled back. The next day, for example, those 20 of us who were standing, many of them clergy, we would have been crushed like cockroaches if it were not for the anarchists and the anti-fascists who approached, over 300, 350 anti-fascists. We just had 20.
The movement that Antifa may resemble most closely in its methods and in how it targets its adversaries is German Nazism while it was struggling to take power. Both movements have traded in organized street violence, the nature of which have been defined by their enemies; both have taken advantage of a vast network of support from public administration, universities, and the producers of public opinion.
Unlike generic fascism, Antifa is not patriotic: it seeks to destroy, not reinforce historic Western notions. It is also by far too irrational and nihilistic to be Marxist.
In 2020, black-clad “antifa” activists rioted and practiced violence on a scale never imagined by the several tiny proto-fascist American “shirt movements” that had enjoyed ephemeral lives in the 1930s.